After the hike through the Pu’er tea fields, Stone and I headed back to Jinghong, and then took a short bus ride to the southeast, to a small Dai community just off the main highway. I wish I had gotten some photos of the view from the bus window, because the scenes were some of the most awe-inspiring that I had seen that day, including the hike.
This had been right around dusk, with the sun peeking up intermittently from behind tall, boisterous cloud cover, and the bus, with its open windows, was zooming past hillsides thick with banana trees and gorgeous, plunging valleys cross-sectioned with rice paddies and rows of tea trees and corn stalks, every turn of highway revealing a change in landscape, as if one of those old red View-Master stereoscopes.
We spent the night in a Dai house raised on stilts, harassed by mosquitoes. The next overcast morning, we took a leisurely stroll around the village grounds, accompanied only by the pattering of scattering chickens and the occasional motorcyclist. In the middle of this, we stopped inside one of the houses where an apron’d lady was serving up rice noodles. Then we walked out to the lake, where a slow fog was making its way across the distant hills. The neighborhood temple, and the life lessons that its murals were trying to teach: Mengkuan Dai Village (Google Maps)